We tend to resign ourselves to the fact that sooner or later we’ll catch a cold or get the flu in autumn or winter. But is getting a cold really inevitable? While it’s not realistic to completely avoid situations where viruses are transmitted (being in contact with other people in offices, public transport, airplanes etc), you can keep a good routine that includes hygiene and habits that will help strengthen your immune system.
Washing and disinfecting your hands, especially if you just had spent time with someone who is feeling under the weather, is the first step. Doctors recommend to wash your hands for at least 15 seconds using soap and water. This is so important that there is a day dedicated to it: World Hand Hygiene Day is on the 5th May.
Keeping the immune system strong is the first line of defence against viruses. Therefore, if you are feeling tired, you are not sleeping enough, you are not eating healthily but you are relying on convenience food, sugar and caffeine, you are more likely to have a weaker immune system.
In a 2012 study published by the Pediatrics journal with 120 premature babies it was found that those babies who received massage had a higher number of natural killer cells, ie, those cells that are responsible to defend the body against an attack from viruses. The study also revealed that the infants who were given massages put on more weight than the ones in the control group who didn’t.
The stress hormone cortisol lowers the number of natural killer cells, however massage can help increase killer cell count by diminishing the levels of stress hormones in the body.
According to Harvard Medical School, having a healthy lifestyle can have positive effects on the immune system. A good diet, regular exercise, good sleep all contribute to keeping a strong immune system.
Gentle exercise and stretching can be helpful to keep the blood and lymph circulation systems healthy: a healthy lymphatic system, in particular, means a stronger immune system because the body is better able to defend itself from infection. Good circulation means having an efficient way to dispose of waste and an efficient body is a healthy body.
Thai yoga massage can be a good ally to help maintain flexibility and feel stronger during the winter months. Lengthening the muscles, moving the limbs gently, applying pressure points during a Thai yoga massage can help achieve a sense of lightness. For example, people in sedentary jobs may feel restricted in some movements, have aches and pains, feel like they are not breathing at full capacity. During a Thai yoga massage, the practitioner encourages the client to inhale and exhale deeply while gently stretching arms, legs and back. Movement is essential for good circulation, and relaxation is useful to combat stress.
Here at Thai Kosai we specialise in Thai massage. You can visit us during your lunch break and go back to your desk feeling energised, or you can drop by after work and treat yourself to an hour to unwind and feel ready for a good night’s sleep.